Monday, May 25, 2009

Christopher West Corrects Nightline Editors

Recently Christopher West, a Catholic educator, author, lecturer, and faculty member of the Theology of the Body Institute was featured on Nightline. And the criticisms have come raining in from all quarters, somewhat unjustly. But this is a case of editorial skew. Based on the meida report, I thought "this guy is a raving sex lunatic giving Catholics a bad name". Doing my own homework, I find the opposite to be the case.

Several editorial comments which have also been picked up by other news outlets have led to misleading statements which seem to paint West as a radical Catholic sex therapist / preacher who equates Pope John Paul II and Hugh Hefner's approach to sexuality.
[ChristopherWest.com] Regarding the connection between John Paul II and Hugh Hefner, Christopher often points out the interesting historical “coincidence” of the work of these two profoundly influential men. In the early 1950s, as Hefner was founding Playboy magazine, Karol Wojtyla began to lecture and write about the need for Christians to experience a redemption of their bodies and sexuality. In their respective work, both Hefner and John Paul II responded to a puritanical /Manichean approach to sexuality, but they offered completely different solutions to the problem. This is the historical "connection" of which Christopher spoke in the Nightline interview. ABC latched onto this point, but they failed to provide the larger context Christopher offered in his extended interview with Nightline’s correspondent. This lack of proper context has led some to misinterpret Christopher’s remarks as somehow endorsing Hefner’s views.

The point Christopher made—but which wasn’t included in the Nightline piece—was that, as Catholics, we agree with Hugh Hefner’s diagnosis of the disease (i.e., a puritanical rejection of the body and sexuality is utterly contrary to Catholic faith), but we radically disagree with his cure.
This kind of misunderstanding is almost inevitable given the culture's 5 second attention span and the media's desire for shocking headlines and scandalous stories. The plain fact of the matter is that context is everything. If you take a complex subject and thousand pages of instruction and try to distill it down to a sound bite, you're bound to come away with a distorted view.

WBN has covered the topic of media selective hearing before, and it seems like it applies now.
West: The Song of Songs presents an unabashed biblical celebration of the chaste love of a husband and wife, including multiple references to the intimacies of "tasting" the goodness of the other. Let my lover come to his garden and eat its choice fruits. Songs Ch 4

Media: Did he just say "oral sex"?

1 comment:

Karinann said...

As someone who has been on the other side of the media on a much smaller scale,(I did an interview with PBS some years back on post-abortion healing) I sympathize with West. They will hear only what fits their agenda and use it accordingly. My whole take on West is that he may not be everyone's cup of tea but he is a faithful Catholic and he has gotten many to see and understand the Church's teaching on sexuality.
Thanks for stopping by my blog.
Great blog-love the name!

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